Datamining: Good Heavy Games with < X playing time
Ola Mikael Hansson
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I was using BGG's advanced search to look for games which pack a lot of punch into a short playing time. Curiosity overtook me, and I decided to generalize my search, and methodology, and see which games came up.

Methodology:
For a given maximum playing time, I search for good games (arbitrarily defined as average rating of at least 7, with at least 100 user ratings). I then gradually increase the minimum game weight until 20 or fewer games result. From this set of games, I then highlight:
* 2-player game with highest rank (Has to be recommended for 2)
* Multi-player game with highest rank (Has to be recommended for a count higher than 2)
* Game with highest average rating
* Top three games with highest average weight

The game weight thresholds I thus ended up with were:
Playing time: Up to 15 minutes gave Game Weight 1.2+
Playing time: Up to 30 minutes gave Game Weight 2.8+
Playing time: Up to 45 minutes gave Game Weight 2.9+
Playing time: Up to 60 minutes gave Game Weight 3.3+
Playing time: Up to 1.5 hours gave Game Weight 3.6+
Playing time: Up to 2 hours gave Game Weight 3.8+
Playing time: Up to 2.5 hours gave Game Weight 3.9+
Playing time: Up to 3 hours gave Game Weight 4.0+

I hope other people will find the results interesting as well!
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1. Board Game: Blokus Duo [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:791]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 15 minutes

Best 2-player game: Blokus Duo


Board Game Rank: 325
Average Rating: 7.05
Average Weight: 1.8

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Seems like a fine choice to me. But there are a lot of abstracts packing plenty of depth into a short playing time.

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2nd best 2-player game: Mr. Jack Pocket
3rd best 2-player game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple
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2. Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:426]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 15 minutes

Best multi-player game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple

Board Game Rank: 678
Average Rating: 7.13
Average Weight: 1.4

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I don't think this really fits the list, with such a low weight rating. Its presence is a result of the very low number of "good" games in 15 minutes or less.

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2nd best multi-player game: Mus
3rd best multi-player game: BattleCON: War of Indines
 
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3. Board Game: BattleCON: War of Indines [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:567] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 15 minutes

Highest average rating: BattleCON: War of the Indines
3rd heaviest game: BattleCON: War of the Indines


Board Game Rank: 884
Average Rating: 8.00
Average Weight: 2.6

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I don't really know anything about this game, apart from that it appeared in Tom Vasel's Top 100 this year. The average weight certainly seems to indicate that it fits the list.

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2nd highest average rating: Mus
3rd highest average rating: Bughouse Chess
 
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4. Board Game: Homeworlds [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:2987]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 15 minutes

Heaviest game: Homeworlds


Board Game Rank: 1650
Average Rating: 7.26
Average Weight: 3.2

---

I played a bit of this over at SuperDuperGames, and it is certainly a brain-burner.
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5. Board Game: Bughouse Chess [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:2594]
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Game length: Up to 15 minutes

2nd heaviest game: Bughouse Chess


Board Game Rank: 1126
Average Rating: 7.48
Average Weight: 2.9

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My experience with Bughouse is that it is more chaotic than brain-burning. Also, the games I played sure lasted longer than 15 minutes - but, as with most abstracts, it is up to the players to pick their own pace. Some people enjoy Chess with 1 min/player... myself, I prefer a considerably slower pace.
 
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6. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy [Average Rating:7.77 Overall Rank:48]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 30 minutes

Best 2-player game: Race for the Galaxy
Best multi-player game: Race for the Galaxy


Board Game Rank: 16
Average Rating: 7.86
Average Weight: 2.9

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Yup, Race for the Galaxy is a perfect example of what I was looking for - a lot of game weight and depth condensed into a short playing time. Great game!

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2nd best 2-player game: Magic: The Gathering
3rd best 2-player game: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game

2nd best multi-player game: Space Alert
3rd best multi-player game: Magic: The Gathering
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7. Board Game: Lock 'n Load: Heroes of the Blitzkrieg [Average Rating:7.93 Overall Rank:3195] [Average Rating:7.93 Unranked]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 30 minutes

Highest average rating: Lock'n Load: Heroes of the Blitzkrieg


Board Game Rank: 1682
Average Rating: 8.14
Average Weight: 3.0

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I know nothing about this game. It is certainly true that some War Games have small and quick scenarios, while still having a lot of systematic rules complexity.

---

2nd highest average rating: Race for the Galaxy
3rd highest average rating: Space Alert
 
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8. Board Game: Homeworlds [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:2987]
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Game length: Up to 30 minutes

Heaviest game: Homeworlds


Board Game Rank: 1650
Average Rating: 7.26
Average Weight: 3.2

---

Homeworld holds it's position, even competing with the 30 minutes games. But then, I do think the listed playing time of 15 minutes is rather optimistic, at least between two experienced players.
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9. Board Game: Havannah [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:4075]
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Game length: Up to 30 minutes

2nd heaviest game: Havannah


Board Game Rank: 2272
Average Rating: 7.21
Average Weight: 3.2

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An excellent abstract game, with a lot of depth to it. Adding tempo races on top of a connection game-play provides lots of novel tactics and strategy. If you want to get schooled by good players, visit Little Golem, which features some very strong opposition amongst its members.
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10. Board Game: Magic: The Gathering [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:149] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 30 minutes

3rd heaviest game: Magic: The Gathering


Board Game Rank: 137
Average Rating: 7.36
Average Weight: 3.1

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One could argue that at competitive level (especially in wide formats like Legacy), this deserves a far heavier game weight than 3.1; the comprehensive rules are long, exhaustive, and written in a very technical way. Luckily, one does not need to know all these details to enjoy a simple friendly game, and can worry about weird interactions only when they actually occurs.
 
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11. Board Game: Car Wars Compendium [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:2931]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 45 minutes

Heaviest game: Car Wars Compendium


Board Game Rank: 1632
Average Rating: 7.02
Average Weight: 3.3

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From my dim memories of playing Car Wars back in childhood, the game certainly subscribed to the Star Fleet Battles-esque philosophy that more details and options and special rules covering everything that could possibly happen was always a good thing.

The rest of the games in the up to 45 minutes category were all repeats from lower playing times, so I am not going to add them as individual items. For summary, here they are again:

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Game length: Up to 45 minutes

Best 2-player game: Race for the Galaxy
2nd best 2-player game: Magic: The Gathering
3rd best 2-player game: Call of Cthulhu: The Card Game

Best multi-player game: Race for the Galaxy
2nd best multi-player game: Magic: The Gathering
3rd best multi-player game: Necromunda

Highest average rating: Lock'n Load: Heroes of the Blitzkrieg
2nd highest average rating: Race for the Galaxy
3rd highest average rating: 1936: Guerra Civil

2nd heaviest game: Homeworlds
3rd heaviest game: Havannah
 
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12. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:394]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 60 minutes

Best 2-player game: Up Front


Board Game Rank: 103
Average Rating: 7.87
Average Weight: 3.4

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I know nothing about this game, apart from that it's considered a classic.

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2nd best 2-player game: Squad Leader
3rd best 2-player game: Chess
 
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13. Board Game: Warmachine Prime Mk II [Average Rating:7.85 Overall Rank:1022]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 60 minutes

Best multi-player game: Warmachine Prime Mk II


Board Game Rank: 423
Average Rating: 8.29
Average Weight: 3.6

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Another game I know absolutely nothing about.

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2nd best multi-player game: The New Era // I highly recommend this to fans of Race for the Galaxy
3rd best multi-player game: Warmachine
 
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14. Board Game: Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:492]
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Game length: Up to 60 minutes

Heaviest game: Squad Leader


Board Game Rank: 207
Average Rating: 7.45
Average Weight: 4.0

---

Squad Leader and Advanced Squad Leader both have imposing reputations as far as rules complexity goes, while providing smaller scenarios, so it is no surprise to see them appearing on this list.
 
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15. Board Game: Sicily: Triumph and Folly [Average Rating:7.76 Overall Rank:3593]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 60 minutes

2nd heaviest game: Sicily: Triumph and Folly


Board Game Rank: 1601
Average Rating: 7.87
Average Weight: 3.9

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Up to 60 minutes? Really? I owned this one, but ended up selling it, and I couldn't even get through the smallest scenarios in such a short time. As for the full game, we're talking many dozens of hours! Sometimes, BGG's listed playing times are not very accurate at all.
 
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16. Board Game: Shogi [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:1082]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 60 minutes

3rd heaviest game: Shogi


Board Game Rank: 673
Average Rating: 7.38
Average Weight: 3.9

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Of the three big traditional chess games, this is my favourite. (I also quite enjoy JangGi (Korean Chess), as well as Chu Shogi, but they have nowhere near the popularity of western Chess, XiangQi, or Shogi.)
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17. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:126]
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Game length: Up to 1.5 hours

Best 2-player game: Go
2nd heaviest Game: Go


Board Game Rank: 45
Average Rating: 7.78
Average Weight: 4.0

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Half the complexity is agreeing upon exactly which rules system to use (see http://home.snafu.de/jasiek/rules.html for comparison and commentary), just in case one of the rare situations in which it makes a difference comes up!

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2nd best 2-player game: Reef Encounter
3rd best 2-player game: Squad Leader
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18. Board Game: Reef Encounter [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:502]
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Game length: Up to 1.5 hours

Best multi-player game: Reef Encounter


Board Game Rank: 193
Average Rating: 7.27
Average Weight: 3.7

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I have this game (though not the edition pictured), and remember it being rather brain-burning. Sadly, since my wife didn't enjoy the game, it has been far too long since I last played it.

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2nd best multi-player game: Warmachine Prime Mk II
3rd best multi-player game: Middle-Earth
// While I enjoyed this CCG a lot, I found it best on just 2 players, personally.
 
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19. Board Game: Squad Leader [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:492]
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Game length: Up to 1.5 hours

Heaviest game: Squad Leader


Board Game Rank: 207
Average Rating: 7.45
Average Weight: 4.0

---
 
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20. Board Game: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:1687]
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Game length: Up to 1.5 hours

3rd heaviest game: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen


Board Game Rank: 609
Average Rating: 8.21
Average Weight: 3.9

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Another war game which I am not personally familiar with. Does this one really have scenarios that short? I am fairly sure the main campaign is considerably longer than that!

Also, the longest name on the list.
 
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21. Board Game: Brass: Lancashire [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:32]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 2 hours

Best 2-player game: Brass
Best multi-player game: Brass


Board Game Rank: 8
Average Rating: 8.07
Average Weight: 3.9

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I can personally attest to the fact that, despite not supporting 2 players according to the box, the game works excellently on 2 players using the variant given here on the geek.

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2nd best 2-player game: Caylus
3rd best 2-player game: Ora et Labora

2nd best multi-player game: Caylus
3rd best multi-player game: Caylus
 
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22. Board Game: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen [Average Rating:8.16 Overall Rank:1687]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 2 hours

Highest average rating: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen


Board Game Rank: 609
Average Rating: 8.21
Average Weight: 3.9

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Oh no, I had to type in that ridiculously long game title again!

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2nd highest average rating: Terra Mystica
3rd highest average rating: Ora et Labora
 
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23. Board Game: Streets of Stalingrad (third edition) [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:4088]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 2 hours

Heaviest game: Streets of Stalingrad (third edition)


Board Game Rank: 1912
Average Rating: 7.55
Average Weight: 4.3

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Another war game, where my impression is that the main campaign takes considerably longer, but there might be short scenarios.

At this playing time, the three heaviest games are all war games, so I won't give them their own listing, and instead summarize them here:

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2nd heaviest game: Squad Leader
3rd heaviest game: Over the Reich
 
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24. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:20]
Ola Mikael Hansson
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Game length: Up to 2.5 hours

Best 2-player game: Mage Knight Board Game
Best multi-player game: Mage Knight Board Game
Highest average rating: Mage Knight Board Game


Board Game Rank: 9
Average Rating: 8.23
Average Weight: 4.0

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I want this game! Hoping to order it early next year... from reading reviews, it sounds very much like something I would enjoy.

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2nd best 2-player game: Go

2nd best multi-player game: Age of Steam

2nd highest average rating: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen
// Oh no, not again!
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25. Board Game: Streets of Stalingrad (third edition) [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:4088]
Ola Mikael Hansson
Sweden
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Game length: Up to 2.5 hours

Heaviest game: Streets of Stalingrad (third edition)


Board Game Rank: 1912
Average Rating: 7.55
Average Weight: 4.3

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